I was all-boy. Let’s make that clear from the beginning. From the time I knew the difference, I liked girls.
But then there was my mom. She birthed me for the sole purpose of having me do social things with her that my dad never had any intention of doing. One of those things was going downtown with her. I was five years old, and I would accompany my mother to downtown Chicago for the purpose of going shopping. I dreaded it. She dressed me up! I had a little suit and tie; patent leather shoes; and worst of all, I had to wear what she called a camelhair car coat. It was really just a long coat that sends shivers up and down my spine to this day.
I had a fedora.
I wore a fedora.
People on State Street looked at me with the utmost amount of pity, while my mother beamed with pride. I had to do it for her. She was 45 and could die any minute. She was the oldest of all my friends’ mothers. I made sure, however, that none of my friends ever knew I did this.
My “reward” for going along with this psychologically damaging exercise was that we had lunch at Marshall Fields.
Yes, it’s time for a side-note. I haven’t lived in Chicago for a very long time. When I learned that the State Street store was bought by, and renamed Macy’s, I either wanted to cry or kill someone. Why didn’t they just shoot the sun out of the sky? Travesty. Pure and utter travesty. I don’t know if there are people from outside of Chicago who can empathize, but for those Chicagoans who know what I mean…know what I mean.
The Sears Tower became the Willis Tower. I throw up a little in my mouth every time I think of it.
My mother took me to lunch at Marshall Fields. It was very elegant and my mom loved it. I had the same thing every time. It was kind of like a chicken pot pie, but it was in some flaky croissant-like pastry. It was always great. So, there I was, dressed like Ward Cleaver, surrounded by the future extras of the movie COCOON. We didn’t do it every week, but it certainly wasn’t unusual. It was the only time I can remember that my brother, Alan, very briefly had a look of sympathy flash across his face.
Then, my mother had an even better idea. She bought matinee season tickets for the ballet at the Civic Opera House. For the two of us; because my father would rather shoot himself in the head than go to a ballet. I only wished I was old enough to shoot myself in the head. I never revealed to my friends where I was going. I wouldn’t have had any friends.
I went to the ballet with my mother without an argument, and I even looked pleased she scored such great seats. After all, she was old. She was in her mid-forties. She could die any second.
I am not going to discuss the tap dancing lessons.